Top Battles Of Vikings Camp

While many of the defensive starters are set, the Vikings are still assessing a number of open jobs – at kicker, at wide receiver and on special teams. We take a look at the progress of the battles as the team enters the second week of camp, along with a report on the key rookies.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Aaron Elling vs. Paul Edinger for the kicking job -- Elling has looked very good on kickoffs. He clearly has the stronger leg. He is kicking off to goal line with consistency, while Edinger is coming up short. This could be significant because coach Mike Tice said that he will not keep both kickers. Edinger has shown more career consistency on field goal attempts, although he and Elling are running neck and neck on field goals in training camp. Friday's first preseason game against Kansas City will be a key test for both kickers.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: RB Mewelde Moore seems to have pulled ahead of rookie WR Troy Williamson as the No. 1 kickoff returner. Williamson, who is faster than Moore, is not out of it by any stretch ... The weak-side linebacker position seems to have been won by Dontarrious Thomas. Coach Mike Tice said Thomas' main competition, Raonall Smith, was making too many mental errors. Tice also likes to motivate players through the media, so don't count Smith out yet. If he plays well against the Chiefs, he's right back in it...The No. 3 tight end position is an interesting battle between Richard Angulo and Sean Berton. Angulo has the perfect size (6-8, 283) and has shown soft hands. Berton is the ultimate grinder with a toughness and blocking ability that Tice loves.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Travis Taylor. Taylor was the hit of the Vikings' first intra-squad scrimmage on Aug. 5. He caught seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Tice said Taylor is having such a good camp that he is now pushing for No. 2 receiver Marcus Robinson's starting position. "To me, right now, they are in a heck of a battle," Tice said.

ROOKIE REPORT: Coaches are easing WR Troy Williamson (seventh overall) in slowly. He missed the first three days of practices because he was unsigned. He spent his first day of practice running routes on the sideline and catching passes from receivers coach Wes Chandler. Williamson is running with the second team. He has dropped a few passes, but also caught a nice 32-yard touchdown from Brad Johnson. Right now, Williamson is listed as the No. 5 receiver, although he might run No. 4 until Kelly Campbell recovers from a quadriceps injury

...DE Erasmus James (18th overall) is unsigned. Little progress has been made in the negotiations.

..Second-round pick Marcus Johnson is working as a backup at right tackle. It appears his battle with Adam Goldberg at left guard ended before it had a chance to get going. The Vikings want Johnson to focus on right tackle because starter Mike Rosenthal is coming off a broken foot, and last year's backup, Nat Dorsey, is out of shape.

...Third-rounder Dustin Fox, a safety from Ohio State, fractured his left arm and is out three to five weeks. It's the same arm he broke with the Buckeyes last season.

...Fourth-rounder Ciatrick Fason, a running back from Florida, is with the third string. He fumbled during a goal-line drill.

..Sixth-rounder C.J. Mosley, a defensive tackle from Missouri, is a non-factor this year.

...Seventh-rounder Adrian Ward, a cornerback from Texas El-Paso, has benefited from several injuries in the secondary. He is getting reps with the first nickel defense.


  • C Matt Birk (hip surgery) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list (PUP) and is expected to return Aug. 15.
  • CB Fred Smoot (neck inflammation) is expected to be taken off of PUP on Aug. 8.
  • TE Richard Angulo (strained left shoulder) should return Aug. 8.
  • WR Kelly Campbell (strained right quadriceps) missed practice on Friday and Saturday. He is expected back this week.
  • S Dustin Fox (fractured left arm) will miss three to five weeks.
  • CB Ken Irvin (strained right shoulder) is day-to-day.
  • C Kyle Schmitt (sprained left knee) is expected to miss two weeks.
  • RB Butchie Wallace (sore right Achilles) is day-to-day.
  • LB Grant Wiley (right shoulder) is day-to-day.

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